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Disney Diaries

The Disney Diaries - how I took a family of 8.5 to Disneyland with a budget of $6,500.

Found 7 blog entries about Disney Diaries.

California theme park reviewEveryone's opinions on the California Theme Parks will vary, but these were our overall impressions based on a family with young children. My notes on the parks are as follows:

Get the 5 Day Hopper Pass

Disney we could have easily used an extra day or two. There is just so much to do and see. It was mine and Clint’s favourite park, but all the kids preferred Legoland (which I totally don’t get). So buy the pass, and once you’re at Disney, just add on the extra day or days to make a 5 day park hopper. The park hopper feature is important, and if you don’t go with the SoCo passes (which have the hopper feature) I would not skip this aspect of the passes.

You Have to Have the Fast Pass

The SoCo passes also come with fast pass. Absolutely, you

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Disneyland photoWith the trip all completed, I wanted to do a final run down of how we saved all of our money and made this trip happen on a such a small budget.

1) The RV: I can’t stress enough how much money the RV saved us, and really, for a family our size, it was just plain easier. You know when you’re in a hotel, you’re just surviving without the comforts of home. But I have my motorhome stocked with all of our “stuff.” We rarely feel like we’re missing out on something that we need, that we don’t have.

But more on the money saving aspect. As I have said before, when you have a family our size, hotels want about $350 minimum per night to put you in a suite that they deem appropriate for your size of family. If we had to use a hotel for all 18 days that we

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Warning: The following content may not be suitable for those with queasy stomachs

And then…came the plague. So this is where our trip was thrown a serious curve ball. After Disneyland, Trinity barfed and got sick. Then Grace spewed. The next day Faith blew chunks and I can’t remember too much after that. I can tell you this, every one of us took turns getting sick. The only one who didn’t succumb to illness was Clint.

It was an inexplicable time of survival and coping. We were living in about 170 square feet of space with 8.5 people. There were nights spent driving aimlessly around San Diego looking for a 24 hour laundry.

The Bright Side

Each of the kids got sick with about a 2 day stagger. So in between vomiting we were still able to visit

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Minnie Mouse at DisneylandAs I mentioned in earlier blogs, we did our entire trip to Southern California in an RV. It was a challenge. There’s no question about it. Let just clarify for a moment that the Vanderveens do not drive a big huge Class A bus. We are in a 28 foot C Class sandwich truck, as I call it. Just kidding, it IS super-cute. We bought an ex rental and then renovated it. You can see pictures of it here. But it was tight quarters, no lie. Even though Clint and I felt the pinch, the kids thought it was an adventure, and that’s all that mattered.

The Motorhome

The motorhome was a key part of my money-saving strategy. This is because it lent itself to being a place to stay for super-cheap (when you have a family our size, hotels usually force you to buy a suite)

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We were so eager to take off that we left the evening before, with plans to stop and park in Lethbridge on the first night. Parking is free at almost all WalMarts and Targets in Canada and the US, so we decided to stop there. The only problem, we hadn’t done our big grocery shop to stock the RV because we always do groceries in the US as they are cheaper. So when morning broke, we were sadly without any food and had to buy McDonalds for the family, which set us back $50.

I also forgot to pack mechanical pencils so that homeschooling could continue, so we had to stop and buy some of those. On the way out of the store, I saw some cool slingshots for the boys that simply could not be left on the shelf - $23.

With the extra time that we bought by

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Mickey Mouse at DisneylandWell, the Disneyland trip is over and done. I set a goal to take 8.5 people to Southern California, do Disney, Universal, Sea World, and Legoland for $6,500 or less. These are the blogs that will flesh out how the trip went and if I met my budgeting goal.

About the Disney experience, I will say this: it is more than I ever imagined. Everything is so over the top. The parks are so carefully thought-out and geared to be an amazing experience for kids. We were there for 3 days, and we could not get it all in. Not even close. I was so impressed with Disney as a brand; I don’t have enough good things to say about it.

Welcome to our Disney adventure!

The Plan

Here was the nuts and bolts of our trip:

Over the course of two weeks and traveling in

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Disney keyboardIs it possible for 8.5 people to do Disneyland on $6500 for 2 weeks? I have no idea, but I'm really excited for my kids to experience Disney, as I never had the opportunity. So, over the next while, I'll be sharing my "Disney on the cheap" strategies as I plan our family trip to Anaheim.

OK, so this is super-fun: being the cheap little Dutchies that we are, will be bringing our mountain of children in a RV as we plan to do Disney for 8.5 people on $6500.00 for 2 weeks! That’s right, $6500. And I’m talking everything: food, gas, RV sites, restaurants, and park tickets (Including 3 Days Disney, 2 days Legoland, 1 Day Seaworld [sorry the ticket was free…I know…I’m ashamed of myself] 1 day Universal and maaaaaybe San Diego Zoo (if I can squeeze it in the

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